Gov. Mills expands COVID-19 vaccine booster eligibility to all adults

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 1:15pm

    AUGUSTA — Governor Janet Mills announced Wednesday that, effective immediately, all Maine adults age 18 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot, regardless of underlying medical condition.

    Expanding booster eligibility will protect the health of Maine people, limit transmission of the deadly Delta variant, and preserve Maine’s health care system's capacity now overburdened because of a sustained surge of COVID-19 cases, a news release noted.

    Because of this surge, particularly among unvaccinated individuals, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that all Maine residents live or work in high-risk settings, justifying the expansion of booster eligibility.

    Effective immediately, people ages 18 and over may receive a booster shot in Maine if:

    They completed the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series at least six months ago; OR

    They received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.

    “Vaccines are saving the lives of Maine people and keeping them from getting seriously ill from COVID-19,” said Governor Janet Mills. “With Maine and other New England states confronting a sustained surge, and with cold weather sending people indoors, we want to simplify the Federal government’s complicated eligibility guidelines and make getting a booster shot as straightforward and easy as possible. Whether it’s your third shot or your first, getting the vaccine can save your life, it will keep your family working and it’s the only way to lift the burden off our doctors, nurses, CNAs, nursing homes and hospitals. I urge all Maine people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

    “Maine’s strong vaccination rate is saving lives and reducing hospitalizations and deaths,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “But, with the continued surge of the Delta variant, we must do all we can to protect Maine people from this deadly virus and ease the burden on our health care workers. Now, every Maine adult can get a booster shot to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities.”

    "Given the high level of COVID-19 transmission occurring in Maine, we want Maine people to be clear that all adults are now eligible for a booster,” said Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. “If you haven’t already received a booster, or gotten vaccinated, now is the time.”

    Maine joins at least four other states – Colorado, California, New Mexico, and Arkansas – that have made the COVID-19 booster available to all adults.

    Recent scientific studies have shown that while vaccination remains highly effective at preventing infection and severe disease, protection may decrease over time after COVID-19 vaccination, the news release stated. Infection and milder illness may still occur as decreased protection from vaccination appears to be occurring further out from initial vaccination, according to the release. 

    Maine CDC has notified health care providers of the expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 booster shot and encouraged them to make it available to all adults. While some sites administering boosters may need time to accommodate expanded eligibility, booster doses are available at many vaccination sites. Find a vaccination site or call the Community Vaccination Line at 1-888-445-4111.

    In Maine, nearly 200,000 people, or 20.7 percent of fully vaccinated people, have received a booster dose, according to the U.S. CDC. Maine has the third highest rate of fully vaccinated residents, with nearly 72 percent of Maine people fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

    The U.S. CDC percentage also includes some individuals who are not counted in the Maine CDC’s vaccination tracker, such as those vaccinated through the Veterans Administration, the Indian Health Services, and Department of Defense.